Archive for the ‘Life: Work and Techy’ category

Techy Fun: Attempted fraud

July 18th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Categories: Timewasters and Gee, I Wonder Why?. Author: Anonymous

Somebody recently placed an online order with us, but we thought it was a bit suspicious when the IP address (a “unique” number which helps identify your computer when on the internet) showed up as being in Nigeria, the credit card was in the USA, we are based in Ireland and the order value was over a hundred Euros.

We give them a call on the French number they supplied, but there’s no answer. We then refund the money to the credit card used as we suspect it’s fraud.

Two days later, the person emails us asking why we refunded the money and can we send the goods “now” (sent from a Hotmail account via an anonymous proxy). We replied saying the credit card company flagged the card and recommended we refuse the order. To process the order, he would have to send us a fax of the front of the credit card.

He says he can’t do that as he’s in Nigeria – but can he please pay with another credit card he’s got (this time registered to another third party name in Germany): if not, can we send the goods anyway and he’ll pay on delivery.

For some reason, we declined his order totally and just cut off communication with him after that point.

Techy Fun: Supporting the customer from hell

July 17th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Categories: Gee, I Wonder why? and Just Plain Dumb. Author: Anonymous

here I work, the sales department is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm (i.e. normal office hours) and technical support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.4 days a year (yep – Christmas day included).

I don’t see this as unreasonable – we promise 24/7 tech support after all, but we can’t afford for the sales office to be staffed 24/7 “just in case” there is an order or query. We also provide detailed welcome emails and online knowledgebase systems.

That’s the scenario….

On our website we have a contact page: At the top of the contact page in big bold writing it practically says “The Sales Department CAN NOT help with technical support queries – if you are an existing customer please contact _technical support_” (with the _technical support_ bit taking them to our helpdesk). After the contact form (headed, “SALES ENQUIRIES ONLY” – yep, in caps!), the “The Sales Department CAN NOT help” messages is again repeated in big bold writing.

5.45pm on a Friday night. Guess what happens. Yep, a customer opens a sales request saying they can’t login. Problem – they neglected to say who they were (no domain name, no username – nothing useful). On Saturday, when I check my email, I feel pity for them and respond asking them to open a technical support ticket on the helpdesk (and I provide the link) giving their domain name.

Saturday night. Guess what. They open another sales request with the comment “See previous message. Domain name is”.

Sunday night: They manage to find the help desk and actual open a Complaint that nobody helped them “so how can we advertise 24/7 support”?

Monday – another member of staff replies to the complaint asking them to open a technical support ticket (giving the URL again) and a description of the problem and their domain name (it’s only when I was trawling through the emails did I tie up the “See previous message” message with their original one).

Tuesday: They finally open a ticket for technical support. This time providing their domain name – AND a description of the problem: yippee!

I take a look: password looks to be working for me. I request they send me the username and password they are trying to use as an update to the ticket (and our ticketing system provides a suitable link where it says “DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL – PLEASE _CLICK HERE_ to update this ticket”). Yep – you guessed it – they replied via email with the message “I’M USING THE ONE YOU GAVE ME” (all in caps).

I reply again asking again for the username and password they are trying to use and ask them to update the ticket using the link provided and not to reply via email.

They decide, instead, to open a brand new ticket and cut and pasted the welcome email we sent them.

I merge the tickets and double-check the username and password (and, as expected, they do work). It’s now 2am in the morning and I’m off to sleep (hoping either another tech will have sympathy or the user figures it out themselves).

Wednesday: We have an angry phone call saying they are going to cancel their account as they can’t log in. Call is passed to management whilst we look up the information. I double-check the log files. He’s been logging in using the wrong password (but logs won’t tell me what password he is using). I send the proper password to management and Management reads out the password nice and slowly (“lowercase L for lima, lowercase Y for yankee” etc etc). Customer says “That works – it wasn’t working before. Oh – I’ve been typing it in capitals” (despite the welcome email saying “Passwords are case sensitive” and the helpdesk automatically prompts with “Ensure you are typing in your login details in the correct case – upper and lower case letters are different” if it recognises a login problem).

5 days wasted. Practically two hours of management and tech time wasted.

Do you want to know how much this customer was paying us?

Absolutely nothing.

Once I realised this, my desk got a “head shaped hole” in it and Management said “If they call up again, just cancel their account”.

Why is it also the cheap people which cause so much hassle?

Techy Fun: More Information Please!

July 14th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Category: More Information, Please!. Author: Anonymous

It’s a nice relaxing Thursday at mission control when a tech support ticket is raised on the helpdesk. It looks like correspondence between two people (“Company XYZ: It looks like account 123 isn’t working, but 124 is”), but with no indication as to why and how it concerns us. I then request further information about what the problem is and shufty off to play Roller Coaster Tycoon for a bit.

An hour or two later and a new ticket is opened with exactly the same details (and by the same user). Update ticket again asking for a couple of bits of information “What is the problem? What is meant to happen? What software are you using? Are you getting any error messages?” – basically, something for me to start working from – at the moment, I’ve got no idea what the problem is, let alone how I could offer assistance.

I continue losing a bit of money on RCT3.

Check back on the helpdesk and more correspondence between the customer and this unknown third party – it looks like they are having a problem getting a piece of software working, but what software it is, I don’t have a clue. The third party themselves say things appear to be working.

I close the ticket with a note “Unable to assist – I can’t offer support for third party applications and I haven’t got sufficient information from yourselves to be able to diagnose problem”.

Grab a drink.

They’ve responded to the closed ticket. First of all with some more strange third party correspondence and then asking what information I need (I cut and paste “What is the problem? What is meant to happen? What software are you using? Are you getting any error messages?”).

I wait a bit more – it’s now 11pm at night.

They close the ticket themselves – “Oh, I see the problem: I’ve missed some files”.

11 hours later, the problem is resolved and I’ve still got no idea what the problem was! I need an alcoholic drink!

Techy: Firefox Exploit (sortof)

July 11th, 2007

It appears there is a new Mozilla Firefox based exploit around which (as these demos shown) can be utilised to practically run anything on your computer.

However, the reason I’ve added “sortof” is that Firefox doesn’t actually trigger the exploit itself – another browser (such as Internet Explorer) has to go to a URL starting firefoxurl:// which is then passed to the command line version of Firefox which then starts the exploit. Therefore, even if you just have Firefox installed (but not in use), you are at risk.

So how can you fix this? Secunia advises you to “Do not browse untrusted sites” (yep, like that is easy – especially with third party advertisements on “trusted sites”), and also to disable the “Firefox URL” URI handler. But how do you do this?

It’s reasonably simple:

Open Windows Exporer (not Internet Explorer) and from the Tools menu select “Folder Options” menu. On the dialog that appears select the “File Types” tab.

Now in the list of registered file types find the one that says:

“(NONE)” for extension and “Firefox URL” for file type

Select it and click on delete button to delete it.
Click on “OK” to close the “Folder Options” dialog.

If the delete button is greyed out, click it anyway, click [Advanced], [Remove], Sure? [yes].

Search Engines: What does Google Analytics Bounce Rate Mean?

July 10th, 2007

As many of you may be aware, Google Analytics is actually based off the old Urchin statistical gathering systems (which was a commercial available stats package). However, the new version of Analytics has a “Bounce Rate” section – but what does this mean?

Via 123-reg, I came across Google bounce factor research data is in, I found a nice summary which basically means:

  • The Bounce Rate is the rate that people leave your site for the one they were on previously (i.e. they didn’t find what they wanted on your site)
  • Google actually uses this information to tweak the search engine rankings for your site (on the basis, the lower the bounce rate the “better” your site is)
  • The overall bounce rate for the site and each individual bounce rates for each of your keywords plays a role.

Interesting – and it’s certainly one reason not to use Google Analytics (unless your bounce rate is non-existent), but in theory, it should help persuade people to build content rich sites which actually have the content on the page which the page is being promoted for (no more search for “car insurance” and ending up on adult only websites!).

%d bloggers like this: